Germanic Languages | German Film and Popular Culture
G418 | 8162 | Breger

Topic: ‘Tatort’ and More: Detectives as Social Investigators

It’s Sunday night in Germany. None of my friends is available on the
phone, not to mention for going to the movies or any other
outside-the-house activity … Of course – how could I forget? At 8:15pm
(right after the day’s primetime news broadcast on public television),
it is Tatort time. The tremendous popularity of this television
series, which has been on for many years and features unique detective
teams from different, (former) East and West German cities, will be
the starting point for our investigations in this course. Many of the
featured case stories tackle current social issues – from social
problems in the wake of German unification and ecological hazards to
women’s emancipation and cultural diversity. Watching some of these
episodes, we will discuss detectives as ‘social investigators’ –
interweaving content and form, or the goals of learning about
contemporary society and the genre of detective stories. Branching
out, we will pursue these investigative processes in and through
different media, comparing the television format with both literary
fiction and films produced for movie theatres. In part contemporary,
in part from other time periods, these different detective stories
will also provide us with a sense of the history of the genre.
This course is taught in German, based on mostly German materials,
with writing assignments in both German and English. There will be
weekly filmshowings. Shorter print materials will be available on
oncourse, but please buy a copy of the following two novels, available
at Boxcar Books (408 E. 6th St.) and campus bookstores:

•	Dürrenmatt, Friedrich: Der Verdacht. Diogenes Verlag; Edition: 23.
(September 2004). 8,90 Euro. ISBN-10: 3257214367. ISBN-13:

•	Thea Dorn: Berliner Aufklärung. Verlag: Rotbuch Verlag; Edition: 2
(1994). ISBN-10: 3880223505. ISBN-13: 978-3880223509. Price: available
used, cheaply.